As you walk past new Northbridge boutique Nyepovia you’ll notice a few things.
Firstly, well…You probably won’t notice it. Tucked down the cobble-stoned, street-art adorned Williams Lane (just before Kakulas Brothers, neighboured by everyone’s favourite 21 Jump St-esque den, Spokey Dokes) you’ll most likely have been trafficked there from neighbouring boutiques.
Once you get there, you probably still won’t know where to look…with windows covered corner to corner with cardboard and no signage to speak of, you’ll need to step up to one of the small peepholes torn here and there about the cardboard to get an idea of what it’s all about…
So you’ll most likely shield your eyes and spy through the peepholes, which are adorned with hand painted golden characters and words (it’s feng shui – don’t ask!), you will see what appears to be some giant black filing cabinets, an antique telephone, and a heavy old prison desk. With dim lights and black walls, you’d be forgiven for thinking this was some kind of Depression bomb shelter, doubling as temporary headquarters for secret intelligence officers.
And then, intrigued, you’ll bravely fix your hands onto the large brass door handle and grapple to pull open the heavy front door, barred with wrought iron, and step inside.
…Where’ll you be greeted by racks of crazily coloured, metallic clothes, haphazardly placed shoes and bags, glass cabinets full of elaborate jewellery, and more quirky artefacts and uncomfortable looking furniture than you can poke a stick at.
Go through the velvet changeroom curtains and you’re in for another shock, as the all black walls suddenly explode into an abstract mural of colourful artwork, mastered by local artist Patrick Dougherty. And if you weren’t confused enough already….
…From behind the desk a dramatic looking gentleman slowly arises, dressed in black, atop his head a feathered fedora. If it wasn’t for the beer in his hand and the Smiths music breaking the silence on a small stereo in the corner, you may be tempted to slowly back towards the door. ….
And this is before you see his animal tail!
But fear not – for ye behold Perth’s new fashion angel (of sorts). Meet Kristian Angel (agnostic nomenclature wit? We never asked….), who, together with Jeromy Lim, is co-owner of this new ‘concept’ store, “NYEPOVIA”, which, in the Greek alphabet, stands for “hegemony”.
“It’s a Greek Marxist term,” explains Angel “It’s a word for social hierarchy, the domination of ideology, classing people…it’s like in the movie Brazil, the idea that everything’s filed away… Basically, where we’re heading in society now, well – we’re going down the track of Big Brother, George Orwell y’know…”
Fashion/Orwell? Dropstitch is intrigued. Is Angel trying to co-opt some kind of new Foucauldian disciplinary fashion concept here? “Well, I wanted to juxtapose this idea of hegemony that you see in Brazil with the clothing in my store,” Now, Dropstitch has seen the film Brazil quite a few times, and is intrigued as to how exactly the kind of bleak dystopia depicted in this sci-fi classic applies to a store where there’s giant silver spaceman party jackets for sale?
Angel continues “Well, that’s the thing at the moment: all the clothing’s so fun and happy, that now we’re just taking the piss out of everything. Society’s so organised, everyone dresses the same. We all know where we’re headed and we’re kind of doomed…. To have a store that says ‘the end is nigh’, and then have clothing that, well… isn’t, it’s kind of like an in-joke.”
Awesome. So we’re all gonna die, may as well take the time to party in some good kit on the way out.
The emphasis on detail and design continues in the general layout of the store (which the boys had laid out professionally by a famous feng-shui expert), with the black ceilings and walls, and garment displays artistically illuminated with a well-engineered lighting layout, on which no expense was spared, says Angel “We got some really good lighting in the store, spent a lot of time and money on that. All the high end stores you go to in Europe, they’re really dimly lit. And we wanted to go with this idea that the shop’s like this forgotten, abandoned office…”
“…I like the idea of going into a place, and being somewhere completely different to where you were, just outside,”.
Angel, whose background is in Visual Arts, started the store initially as a place to sell his own fashion label, Diffuse. After a trip abroad where he met with a number of fashion designers in Paris, Angel got the idea to expand the store into something more:
“It went from a low budget store to something a bit bigger. I got so excited by the fashion that I found, I wanted to bring it here, and get people excited here about it. Before I went away I saw so many kids out, at places like the Bakery, emulating these designs. I wanted to bring the clothes here that they were trying to pull off, out, if y’know what I mean, the designers who were actually starting it all”.
Shying away from stocking Australian designers on the principle that things have more appeal when they are available exclusively, is a way in which NYEPOVIA defies the norm “I can’t focus on good labels that are already here, I want people to be able to find things in Perth that they can’t find in Melbourne and Sydney, and they have been”
“…It’s pretty cool to say that we’re a small community and we can offer those people something individual.”
NYEPOVIA can be found at shop 17 Williams Lane, Northbridge, opening at 1pm on most days, subject to change. Enquiries can be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Words by Danielle Marsland, photos by Emma Bergmeier